A Dentist Explains How Oral Numbing Products Work on Toothache Pain

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The answer to curing a toothache is not at your local drugstore – you’ll always want to check in with your dentist to get to the bottom of the issue. But, if you’re dealing with nagging pain while you wait for your appointment, you might have yourself wondering if oral numbing gels will soothe your toothache pain.

To understand how oral numbing solutions – like gels, creams, and liquid – work, we reached out to Dr. Ingrid Murra, DDS, orthodontist, and founder of Two Front.

Dr. Murra says there are several consumer-facing dental numbing solutions that utilize an active ingredient called benzocaine – the same active ingredient your dentist uses as a topical numbing cream before injecting lidocaine and drilling.

These oral numbing agents, Dr. Murra explained, are commonly applied to the gums that surround the tooth that might hurt.

“That pain is generally associated with a tooth or a gum infection,” Dr. Murra said.

But it’s important to know these products should not be viewed or utilized as a final solution to your dental health issue.

“If you aren’t able to get to the dentist for a few days, these are a great product for temporary relief. Keep in mind that these are treating the symptom – pain or discomfort – and not the etiology of the problem, which only your dentist can diagnose and treat!” Dr. Murra said.

It’s also worth noting that Dr. Murra said that products containing benzocaine should not be used on infants and children younger than two years old, as they can carry serious risks.

So if you are having tooth pain, your first step should be calling up your dentist, booking an appointment, and asking for specific and personalized advice on soothing pain until you get there.

Dr. Murra said she recommends over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen for temporary pain relief prior to your dentist visit. Before you take any over-the-counter medications, remember to check with your doctor to get the OK.

Chewing on the opposite side of your mouth or using a warm compress might also be helpful for toothache pain, as previously explained to POPSUGAR by Dr. Charles Sutera, DMD.

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